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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pho Tau Bay, Cabramatta

pho tau bay cabramatta

Soul restorer. Reviver. Curer of all ills. A steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho is guaranteed to make everything better. There's something quite magical about this dish, an elixir that is more than just a bowl of beef noodle soup. It's hours of patient simmering of beef bones and secret spices to create a fragrant stock. It's the last-minute assembly of steaming broth splashed over glistening rice noodles and thin shavings of beef, brought to the table so fast that the soup is still clouded with steam.

pho tau bay cabramatta
Pho Tau Bay

There are plenty of pho noodle houses waving the flag in Marrickville and Bankstown, but Cabramatta is undoubtedly the heartland for Vietnamese food in Sydney. Currently the focus for the SBS documentary series Once Upon A Time in Cabramatta, this is a suburb which has endured a history of notoriety. Today it's a vibrant and thriving community, where hawking shopkeepers and local families  jostle the footpath with curious Sydneysiders on food tours embracing the exotic and the delicious.

But there's only one question on everybody's lips. Where can you find Sydney's best pho? According to a recent online poll it's at Pho Tau Bay in Cabramatta, a family-run restaurant that has been running for over 25 years.

pho tau bay cabramatta
Pho dac biet $12.50 large

Pho Tau Bay offers the usual no-frills deal once you head inside: tissue boxes on every table, DIY chopsticks and a plastic basket filled with all the sauces and condiments you could possibly need.

Pho takes pride of place at the start of the menu, with seven variations to choose from. The standard pho starts at $9 for a small bowl, but we're feeling particularly ambitious and order the pho dac biet, or pho special -- and upgrade to the large size for good measure.

It arrives in a cavernous bowl that beggars belief. You could invite the neighbours over and enjoy a hot tub in this thing.

pho tau bay cabramatta
Pho dac biet

We pause to appreciate the smell of the soup, slightly herbal with notes of star anise. It's best to add a clump of bean sprouts so they can wilt a little in the soup, followed by torn up Vietnamese basil leaves and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

The soup is remarkably clear and not too oily. It's sweet and fragrant, with the heartiness of beef. Slippery rice noodles cascade mercilessly off our spoons, and the wafer thin slices of beef are tender. Buried at the bottom are the treasures of the pho special: bits of brisket, springy tendons, beef balls and ribbons of bible tripe. There's a lot of love in this bowl, and the giant bones we spy on our way to the bathroom (a perilous trek that forces you to literally weave through the tiny kitchen) are an impressive sight.

pho tau bay cabramatta
Banh canh cha chien $10

We mix things up with a serve of banh cuon cha chien, silky parcels of freshly steamed banh cuon rice noodles rolled up with seasoned pork mince and finely chopped up wood ear mushrooms. On top are fat slices of cha chien, a deep-fried Vietnamese deli meat made from pork.

Sprigs of fresh mint, sticks and cucumber and shredded lettuce add freshness and crunch. Douse the lot in the supplied saucer of nuoc cham or fish sauce dressing, and you've got the taste of summer with every mouthful.

pho tau bay cabramatta
Fried pork chop $4

And we love that you can order a whole deep-fried pork chop, listed under the snack section of the menu. Because sometimes when I'm feeling peckish, I know I could do with a pork chop or two.

Marinated in fish sauce and lemongrass, the pork chop is fried on the bone then cut into manageable pieces, garnished with a pile of sauteed green shallots.

Is this the home of Sydney's best pho? It's definitely up there. But wherever you end up eating in Cabramatta, your stomach is sure to live happily ever after.

pho tau bay cabramatta

View Larger Map
Pho Tau Bay on Urbanspoon

Pho Tau Bay
12/117 John Street, Cabramatta, Sydney
(shopfront entry on Hill Street)
Tel: +61 (02) 9726 4583

Opening hours:

Monday and Wednesday to Friday 7.30am-6.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 7.30am-7.30pm
Closed Tuesdays

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Cabramatta food tour with Luke Nguyen
Cabramatta food tour with food bloggers

Cabramatta - Bau Truong (duck tongue and crispy sticky rice)
Cabramatta - Dong Ba (bun bo hue spicy noodle)
Cabramatta - Duc Thanh
Cabramatta - Phu Quoc (duck salad)
Cabramatta - Tan Viet (crispy skin chicken)
Cabramatta - Thanh Binh
Cabramatta - Tuong Lai (sugar cane prawns)
28 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/10/2012 02:09:00 am


  • At 1/10/2012 7:53 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I absolutely love this place! This is definitely my all time favourite restaurant to eat pho.

  • At 1/10/2012 7:54 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    Now that's one mumma of a soup. A bit like a big warm hug from mumma as well! $4 for all that pork?! Man why can't it be that cheap closer to town?

  • At 1/10/2012 8:32 am, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    Yum! You have consumed all my favourites. The banh cuon cha chie sounds lovely, must give it a go when I'm in the area next.

  • At 1/10/2012 8:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So who makes the best in your opinion?

  • At 1/10/2012 9:05 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    It's only just 9am but already I'm craving a bowl of pho! I'll have to check this place out next time I'm in Cabra

  • At 1/10/2012 9:33 am, Anonymous lau@corridorkitchen said…

    I cannot believe I still haven't been here!

  • At 1/10/2012 10:19 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    I just ate breakfast but your post is making me hungry again!! Will have to head down to Cabra for my pho fix now :D

  • At 1/10/2012 10:20 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    I literally wanted to lick the screen with that first shot Helen! Gorgeous! Thank you for another one of your recommendations!

  • At 1/10/2012 11:24 am, Blogger Mel said…

    A pho hot tub...nice! All the food looks wonderful and I agree that you can never go hungry or be disappointed in Cabramatta.

  • At 1/10/2012 11:36 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Oh, this post makes me sad that my plans for pho in Melbourne fell through! Except I had frozen yoghurt instead of pho, and so at the time I wasn't sad at all :P The banh cuon cha chien looks fascinating!

  • At 1/10/2012 3:08 pm, Blogger muppy said…

    hahaha of course a deep fried pork chop is a snack! the article in SBS feast was great as well.

  • At 1/10/2012 4:37 pm, Blogger Anita Nervosa said…

    I do love a good pho - just as good as chicken soup at curing what ails ya (in my opinon!).

  • At 1/10/2012 10:22 pm, Anonymous Food is our religion said…

    Wowza a family business for over 25 years is quite impressive, I can't believe I haven't tried this place yet.

  • At 1/11/2012 4:06 am, Blogger German said…

    Nice, love vietnamise food, my Asian favourite. I will try to make some at home for shake my British cold

  • At 1/11/2012 9:52 am, Anonymous Apple said…

    I really really really need to make a trip out to Cabramatta! It looks delicious and I could do with a nice warm bowl of it right now :)

  • At 1/11/2012 9:50 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    I agree with you Pho is the cure to everything - the chicken soup of the modern, multicultural world!

  • At 1/11/2012 9:51 pm, Anonymous Phillip Nom said…

    Great post! My fav is Pho Ann in Cabramatta.

  • At 1/11/2012 11:32 pm, Anonymous Criss said…

    Pho dac biet looks awesome.. :)

  • At 1/12/2012 12:21 am, Anonymous Sara - Belly Rumbles said…

    I love pho & it makes an awesome hangover cure! I am sure it was Pho Tau Bay I tried a few years ago, was just a pho visit and it was good.

  • At 1/12/2012 1:44 am, Anonymous Mary @ beyondjelly said…

    Looks great! And reminds me that a trip to Cabramatta is long overdue.

  • At 1/12/2012 10:08 pm, Anonymous tania@mykitchenstories said…

    O yes that Pho does look very good.

  • At 1/16/2012 9:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We went last night with a group of four. I love that the complimentary green leaf tea arrives as soon as we are seated. We tackled the pork chops for starters which were divine and the special beef pho. The coconut milk is also delicious. The large size bowl of pho was enormous but our men posished it off no problem. The medium size stopped me in my tracks! The interior is tired and a little daggy and I certainly would have appreciated a serviette in preference to the box of tissues, but for an astoundingly low $67 for 4 of us, who could possibly complain. We really look forward to your food posts, having tried a few of them, we look forward to the next adventure!

  • At 1/16/2012 10:38 am, Anonymous betty said…

    i love this place as it has fish pho :)

  • At 1/16/2012 12:01 pm, Blogger Tony Hollingsworth said…

    Great photos and coverage Helen! Can't wait to try Pho Tau Bay. Although it's the only place I've tried, Pho Minh was excellent. Thanks to Thang Ngo who met us out there last year - I can't wait to go back! Photos/blog: http://hollingsworth.posterous.com/cabramatta-tweetup-brunch-at-pho-minh-viettub

  • At 1/17/2012 4:55 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Hey great photos! I've been loving your blog for a long time! My mum actually makes the beef balls for pho tau bay :)

  • At 1/22/2012 11:19 am, Blogger tykang said…

    Oh my - as a former Sydneysider now living in London - I've been coming here for over 20 years. Definitely the best place for Pho in Sydney

  • At 11/06/2014 6:09 pm, Blogger Amanda said…

    This is still my all time favourite place for pho! Been going here since I was a little kid and have loved it ever since.

  • At 3/01/2015 1:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My mother and I both had the Mì Quảng there during the tết (Vietnamese new year) celebrations. It tasted awesome, especially the pork. I'm looking forward to going there again and working through the menu.


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